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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Interview with Katherine P. Stillerman!!

I'm super excited to have Katherine P. Stillerman here to day! Read on for our interview and to find out more about her book In the Fullness of Time: One Woman's Story of Growth and Empowerment


Holly: Hi! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself? :)

Katherine: I finally decided what I wanted to be when I grow up, after thirty fruitful years as a public school educator in North Carolina, when I retired to take up writing as a second career. When I’m not writing, I’m reading or relaxing with my husband Bill in our empty but cozy nest in Winston-Salem, or spending time with one of our nine delightful grandchildren, who keep me young and on my toes. I volunteer weekly at an agency that provides community members in crisis with food, medication, and assistance with rent and utilities. I love the Wake Forest Deacons and the Carolina Panthers and am still in mourning over the end of Downton Abbey.


Holly: Do you write an outline before starting a book or just write?

Katherine: I’m somewhere between a “pantser” and a “planner” when it comes to my writing process. I mostly let the characters lead me through the story, but when I get an idea of where they are going, I do some outlining of scenes. Last year I participated in National Novel Writing Month (Na-No-Wri-Mo), in which I took on the challenge of writing 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30.

I knew it would be impossible to meet that goal without doing some organizing up front. So, I spent the month of October generating my story idea, sketching the characters, and roughly outlining the scenes. That worked really well and I’ll probably do it again this year. When I’m writing to a deadline, I don’t have much choice but to do some type of outlining. When time doesn’t matter, which was the case with my first novel, I have the luxury of letting the characters lead me. The latter approach probably makes for more unique and effective characterization; the former ensures a tighter plot and story line, as well as a method for accelerating the pace of the writing.

Holly: Which came first for you, the characters or the plot?

Katherine: Definitely the characters. The main character in Hattie’s Place and its sequel In the Fullness of Time, is loosely based on my grandmother, who graduated from Greenville Female College in South Carolina in 1906, got a teaching job in a neighboring community, and ended up marrying the man in whose home she was boarding, after his wife tragically died and left four young sons behind.

Holly: Are you working on anything at the moment?

Katherine: Yes, it’s the 50,000-word draft I finished during Na-No-Wri-Mo. The working title is Mountain Brook Memories: 1961-1963. It’s about a preacher's kid whose family moves to Birmingham, Alabama, into the affluent and highly segregated neighborhood of Mountain Brook. The main character, Harriet Elizabeth Oechsner, the granddaughter of the protagonist in my first two novels, is faced with the challenge of being an outsider and of finding her place in a society steeped in tradition and staunchly resistant to change. The story is played out against the backdrop of the Cold War and the American Civil Rights movement. My goal is to publish the novel at the end of the year or early in 2018.

This book would be the third in the series of the Hattie novels, only it skips a generation. Ultimately, I envision filling in the gap with one or maybe two more novels, taking Hattie through the Great Depression and World II, and then following her into her later life, in the 1970’s when she develops into a quirky and impulsive older adult, who learns to drive at 76, and is plagued with the onset of dementia.

Holly: Can you tell us about your challenges of getting your first book published?

Katherine: I decided early on to go the route of independent publishing and when I discovered Amazon’s CreateSpace.com, I never considered anything else. I’m sure there are plenty of other excellent e-publishers, but this method has worked for me for numerous reasons that include: complete control over my manuscript, a range of affordable services from editing to cover design to interior design to formatting for Kindle, no upfront costs, 75% royalty, and professional end product.

My first book, Retirement: A Journey not a Destination, is a personal memoir that I intended to publish only for myself and a small circle of family and friends. CreateSpace.Com provided the instructions and tools that enabled me to do everything on my own and to publish the book for under $100.

When I began writing fiction with the idea of marketing to a larger audience, I turned to CreateSpace.com to design a professional cover, to ensure that the interior was formatted correctly, and to format the text for Kindle. I was pleased with the outcome and felt the additional expense was well justified.

Holly: I know authors get asked this a lot but do you have any advice that you would give to aspiring writers?

Katherine: Yes. If you truly aspire to be an author, then write consistently and read everything you can get your hands on. Consistent could mean daily or periodically, in large chunks of time—whatever works for the individual, but the key is to write a lot.

Holly: What about marketing your books?

Katherine: That’s the real challenge for me as an author, and I must admit that it’s been a trial and error process and the part I least enjoy. But I’m learning that all of the components of the writing process are critical: composing, editing, revising, publishing, and marketing. I’m also beginning to realize that the marketing phase of the cycle is the part that separates people who are content to be writers from people who want to be authors as well. I’m so much more comfortable being a writer and tend to want to prolong the composing and editing phases.

Marketing takes me out of my comfort zone and thrusts me into the land of the neophyte, who is basically learning by doing. So far, I’ve tried the following strategies:
Created a website http://www.FortheLoveofWriting.net, where my books are featured and I post regularly about various topics of interest to writers and readers
Become active on social media—Twitter and Facebook
Created an author dashboard (free) on Goodreads.com and OnlineBookClub.org
Created a small marketing budget and purchased the following:
Professional reviews from SelfPublishingReview.com and OnlineBookClub.org.
Promotional packages from Wordslinger.com and SelfPublishingReview.com
Ads on Goodreads.com and Amazon
Mailed printed copies of In the Fullness of Time to local libraries, friends, and key readers.
Bookmarks from UPrinting.com for promoting the book.
Accepted an engagement for April 24 to share my writing experiences with “The Brotherhood of the Biscuit,” a church group that meets for fellowship at St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte.
It’s too soon to report on the success of the paid strategies, since In the Fullness of Time has been published less than three weeks and some are still in process. However, I am committed to full transparency in this learning-by-doing journey, and I’ll be posting all of the results—the good, the bad, and the ugly—on my website.

Random Quickies



Holly: Coke or Pepsi?

Katherine: I Love 8 oz. Cokes in glass bottles, plain Hershey Bars, dogs, 

Holly: Favorite Color? 

Katherine: Blue

Holly: Favorite Book? 

Katherine: Water for Elephants

Holly: Favorite Movie? 

Katherine: Four Weddings and a Funeral. 

Holly: Paperback or eReader? 

Katherine: I’ve been using an e-reader for about five years because I can store all my books and have them at my fingertips. Besides, my bookshelves are completely full and there’s no more room.

Holly: Thank you so much for being here with us Katherine and letting us know a little about you! Below you will find more information about Katherine and her book  In the Fullness of Time: One Woman's Story of Growth and Empowerment.



Title: In the Fullness of Time: One Woman's Story of Growth and Empowerment
Author: Katherine P. Stillerman
Pages: 226
Purchase: Amazon

In this sequel to Hattie’s Place, the year is 1913. Hattie Robinson is married to the widowed Charles Barton and has left her teaching position at Calhoun School to raise Charles’s sons and manage the Barton estate. Now she must reconcile her role as mother and wife with her work for woman’s suffrage, a cause that ignited her passion when attending the Woman’s Suffrage Procession in Washington, on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s first inauguration. 

As a young bride, twenty-three years her husband’s junior, Hattie struggles for acceptance in the community and Barton family. And then, Will Kendrick, her first love, appears, causing old feelings to resurface. When Julia Martin, the widow of Charles’s best friend Percy, reaches out to Charles for legal advice in settling her husband’s estate, Hattie discovers clues casting doubt on Charles’s fidelity, and begins to question her marriage. 

As Hattie throws herself into her work to gain the vote for women, South Carolina’s reactionary politicians Ben Tillman and “Cotton Ed” Smith thwart suffrage efforts in the state at every turn. Even the progressive president Wilson drags his feet, invoking states rights as the only pathway to an amendment. Equally discouraging is the anti-suffragist sentiment among those of Hattie’s own gender. 

When Hattie’s sister-in-law Alice learns to drive and purchases a 1916 Saxon touring car, Hattie agrees to go on a road trip to join the peaceful protests in Washington on the eve of President Wilson’s second inauguration. Alice also invites Julia Martin to go along, and to Hattie’s chagrin, Julia is sitting in the passenger seat when the two arrive from Columbia to pick her up. The journey brings new insight and fresh perspective, enabling Hattie to resolve misunderstandings with Charles and convincing her to continue her work for suffrage, with her husband’s blessings. 

But the road Hattie has chosen becomes even more fraught with disappointing setbacks and delays. In 1917, the US declares war on Germany and the president mobilizes the country in the fight for freedom in Europe, ignoring the oppression of the rights of women at home. Public opinion shifts, casting the women’s movement as unpatriotic and subversive. 

Hattie does her part for the war and agonizes when Charles Jr. and the boys from Calhoun are drafted and sent to the front. She continues to support the suffrage cause, but must cancel a second road trip due to gas rationing. 

When the war ends, she travels with Alice and Julia and Charles Jr.’s fiancée Pauline, to Washington to join the peaceful protests at the White House, organized by Alice Paul and the Woman’s Party. The women become inspired to drive on to New York to join the demonstration against president Wilson, who is speaking at the New York Opera House on the eve of his return to the Paris peace negotiations. The peaceful demonstration turns violent when the police and soldiers, who have flooded the ports on their return from war, begin shoving the suffragists and breaking and burning their banners. 

Amidst the uproar, Pauline becomes convinced that she has spotted Charles Jr. in the crowd and is determined to go and look for him. Hattie persuades her that they must first go to police headquarters to find Alice and Julia, who have been arrested and detained there. 

The Susan B. Anthony Amendment finally passes the Senate in 1919. But Hattie and the South Carolina suffragists endure their greatest disappointment yet when the South Carolina legislature refuses to ratify the amendment by an overwhelming majority. They must now depend on the men of other states to ensure their enfranchisement.


Katherine P. Stillerman is a retired educator who turned to writing as a second career. She is author of Retirement: A Journey not a Destination, published in 2013, and Hattie’s Place, published in 2015. 

Stillerman graduated Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, with a BA in history. She also earned an MA in intermediate education from Campbell University in Buies’ Creek, North Carolina and an EdD in educational leadership from UNC-Greensboro. 

Stillerman has made her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for the last thirty-two years. She and her husband Bill have four grown sons and nine grandchildren. 

For more information about In the Fullness of Time, please visit www.http//fortheloveofwriting.net or contact Katherine P. Stillerman at kstillerman@triad.rr.com.

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